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Milton council debates sustainability plan

Committee proposes three-year action program
December 2, 2019

Milton Town Council has begun considering a townwide sustainability plan that would provide a roadmap for policy aimed at sustaining the town’s character while preserving the environment and planning for future growth.

The plan is currently under review by council, with the idea that it will eventually be voted on and put into action.

By 2020, Milton is expected to pass 3,000 people and go to 3,200 by 2025. As defined in the plan, sustainability is satisfying the town’s current needs without sacrificing the future well-being. The plan, developed by a committee of town residents, features a three-year action plan designed to integrate sustainability strategies into town projects, plans and procedures. 

The first year of the plan calls for hiring a part-time staff member to identify grant opportunities and cost-saving measures to help implement sustainability projects, and having the sustainability committee provide quarterly reviews to town council on implementation of the plan. The committee would also work with town staff to begin embedding plan goals into upcoming projects.

Besides town government, the plan also calls for educating citizens on recycling options and working with restaurants in town to adopt an upon-request policy for straws and single-use plastics. Finally, year 1 also includes working with state agencies to promote conservation of natural resources and promoting stormwater management best practices. 

Year 2, which runs through the end of 2021, focuses on more in-depth implementation of the plan through aligning plan goals with the town’s budget. Among the measures called for are purchasing more environmentally friendly vehicles for police and municipal use, creating sustainability scoring criteria for capital improvement projects, installing electric vehicle charging stations and taking an inventory of the town’s environmental resources.

In Year 3, the plan calls for developing a tree inventory, conducting a climate vulnerability assessment, and building a sustainability resource center where residents would go to learn more about the town’s initiatives on energy, recycling, stormwater and climate change. Year 3 also includes adopting a pet waste ordinance to get people to clean up after their animals, and passing policies to improve residential energy efficiency. 

When it was presented to town council Nov. 7, council members liked the plan’s depth and ambition. Town Manager Kristy Rogers said at least one more workshop meeting would be held before council votes to adopt the plan. 

Michela Coffaro, a member of the sustainability committee, said, “You don’t take this all at once. You take it a bite at a time. My hope, and I think others too, is that we look at this as a way of life.”

Coffaro implored council not to get hung up on the cost of implementing items and use that as an excuse to not implement the plan. “If we make money the goal, we’re making a mistake. The goal here is to have clean energy, clean water, clean everything and natural resources, and be a model for others,” she said.

Committee member Ellen Lytton said the plan is intended to be implemented in phases. “The three years was chosen with the idea that it would allow for adjustments,” she said. “It could be extended. This was a starting point.”

While she called some items aspirational, she said there were also a lot of doable things.

Mayor Ted Kanakos praised the committee for its work, but said the hard part is still ahead. “The harder part is implementation,” he said. “Determining what part of this can be implemented. Not everything can be.”

Committee Chairman Louis Colón said, “This is going to be an ongoing conversation with the town. Your priorities may shift one year to the next based on budget and personnel. This is a moving document.”

To read the plan, visit https://milton.delaware.gov/files/2019/10/Sustainability-Plan.pdf